Thursday, February 25, 2016

Baseball Card Price Guide Comparisons, 2010-2012


     I started using Beckett Monthly around 1987 for pricing data.  About 15 years ago,  I started using Beckett's  Official Price Guide of Baseball Cards, which I still use today as my primary checklist and as a pocket guide during travels (4-1/4" x 6-3/4").  I made it pocket-sized (1/2" thickness) by pulling out all the pages that I didn't need (everything except Topps, Bowman, Play Ball, Goudey, and Tobacco).


At home, I started using the much larger 2012 Beckett Price Guide 34th edition a few years ago (measuring about 8" x 11" with a 1-1/2" thickness).  I started outgrowing this guide lately when some of the vintage or more obscure sets I've been collecting were nowhere to be found.  I knew of two other options: the Almanac of Baseball Cards & Collectibles and the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards.  I found them both for $4.00 each ($0.01 + $3.99 shipping).




     I replaced my Beckett Baseball Card Price Guide with the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards (shown below).  This book is just like my other Beckett guide above, but much thicker (about 2-1/4" thick or 75% thicker).  It includes almost all of the vintage and obscure sets that I've been looking for, as well as modern pricing.        


     The Beckett provides a chart for adjusting pricing based on age and grade of your cards.  Older cards are hold their value better through the lower grades using the Beckett.  This method of pricing requires a little more figuring on our own part, so I've created a modified version of this chart to suit my collecting needs (provided on a separate tab of each of my blogs).


The Beckett provides only two columns for a LO and HI value.  I tend to use the HI column for singles and the LO column for complete sets (adjusted using my version of the chart above).  This is the method that I'm most comfortable with.


     I also purchased the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards as an opportunity for another perspective.  As far as I can tell, the Standard Catalog moved to strictly vintage pricing with its 2012 edition.  Beckett also began offering a strictly vintage price guide last year, but includes all four major sports instead of just baseball.  Both, the Standard Catalog, and the Beckett Vintage guide boast larger print.       


 My favorite aspect about this guide so far is the chronological index in the back.  Actually, I'd prefer price guides to be organized according to the chronological index for pre-Topps cards (through 1955 Bowman) instead J.Burdick's American Card Catalog system that's been used ever since his first publication back in 1939.  Back then, the industry didn't know much about the companies or the years that baseball card sets were produced, so a library-type card catalog system was invented to organize all of the sets.  Over the years, enough research has been conducted to determine who made the sets and when, so I figure it's about time to start organizing them chronologically.  A primary example is the 1911 Tobacco Gold (T-205) set being listed before the 1909 Tobacco White (T-206) set.  1909 should come before 1911.  I end up having to flip all over the book to go from one year to the next in many cases.  Knowledge of vintage sets becomes difficult to determine--It's confusing.  The chronological index in the back of the Standard Catalog is definitely a first step in the right direction.    


     For pricing, the Standard Catalog uses 3 columns based on condition rather than a range for a single condition, which leads to a little less figuring required.  There is a [NM 7.0] column, an [EX 5.0] column, and a [VG 3.0] column.  [EX-MT 6.0] and [VG-EX 4.0] pricing can be determined by averaging two adjacent columns.


     As a low grade vintage collector, the key to most of my pricing is in the shaded portion of the guide shown below:

*[GD 2.0] condition cards can be determined by halving the the [VG 3.0] column,
*[FR 1.5] condition cards can be determined by halving the [GD 2.0] column.
*[PR 1.0] condition cards are stated to be worthless, which I'll take to be less than [FR 1.5].

  I'm just not so sure that I'm on board with this system yet.  I tried pricing a few low-grade cards using the above logic and came up with some interesting results.  


     I tend to use the Beckett guide more for pricing and the SCD guide more for locating or identifying sets.


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